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Pritee Almeida Interview: Divas London

This time last week I was meant to be embarking onboard the static Tattershall Castle Boat for two hours of fun with the cast of Divas London: the new divas-themed party show. Unfortunately I was unwell and unable to make their review, but rather than lose out on the opportunity to feature the show on my website, I had the chance to speak to cast member Pritee Almeida about the production.

Pritee Almeida in Divas London
Pritee Almeida in Divas London. © Divas London

Known professionally by her stage name of ‘Big Mama Funk’, Pritee is one of the singers currently performing in Divas London on Fridays – Sundays for 9 weeks only. Featuring the hits of Madonna, Whitney Houston and Cher to name but a few, the production aims to provide 2 hours of divas-inspired live performance, courtesy of a cast of West End singers, dancers and a drag compere. Currently performing at the Sway London cabaret venue on Fridays (doors open at 6pm) and on board the Tattershall Castle stationary boat on weekend afternoons (doors open at midday), Divas London is based in the city until 23rd June.

Q: How did you get into music and performing?

Into music – mainly because of my big brother Kav who is 7 years older and was sooooo cool with his music (Prince, Soul II Soul etc.), but also my Mum and Dad through old school Bollywood films. My Dad recognised how much I loved music from a young age and bought me Whitney’s self-titled album on cassette which was a moment in time for me.

Pritee Almeida in Divas London
Pritee Almeida in Divas London. © Divas London

Performance – because of my school plays! It started off in junior school where I had the school solos, then in secondary school Miss Dawson was THE teacher who gave me that confidence to believe in my performance ability during drama classes. By the final year of school I had been spotted by my good friend Chloe’s mum who is a big deal in the West End and she managed to convince my folks that I could have a chance in performance, recommending me for the Miss Saigon training school. It was a free school created by Cameron Mackintosh for ethnic minority performers to attend to help them get into the West End, as there was very little diversity in the West End at the time.

Q: Who are your biggest musical influences?

Lata Mangeshkar [composer and playback singer], Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, Lauryn Hill, Michael Jackson.

Q: What drew you to Divas London for your next performance gig?

It was actually Simon Gross who approached me based upon a recommendation from a good friend of mine. I attended the audition with little information and once I understood the concept better I thought – I could do this and really enjoy it as it allows me to perform to a diverse range of people and give them 2 hours break from whatever else is going on in their lives! I have always had a policy of “come to my show with your bag full of troubles – whatever they may be – leave them at the door (metaphorically speaking of course) and just let rip!”.

Hayley Maybury in Divas London
Hayley Maybury in Divas London. © Divas London

Q: What can audiences expect from the show?

More than they thought they would! That’s always the comment we get from our guests at the end. It really is 2 hours of incredible, familiar songs sung by some of the best singers I know (and I have been in the performance business for a long time!), hosted by a hugely offensive old school drag queen [Miss Hot Stuff] who doesn’t mean a word they say! Joining in is actively encouraged – it is what makes the show! We give you the permission to just forget everything for a little moment, because let’s face it – we’re all in this life together and we’re all facing some level of cr*p – so let’s rejoice together too!

Q: Which of the divas featured in the production inspire you most?

Tough one – but a toss up between Aretha and Whitney, although Diana Ross is hugely inspirational too!

Q: Divas London is based at the Sway cabaret venue on Friday evenings and the Tattershall Castle boat on weekend afternoons. How are you finding performing the same show at two different locations?

It’s wonderful to be honest, especially as we get further into the run as the change helps to keep things interesting. I’m sure any performer in a West End Production could say that things could feel a little repetitive after a period of time – so remembering the different spacing and requirements of us keeps the brain ticking! Although in Bar Sway me and “the box” have history. I fell off it the first night – it was quite spectacular – so I will not be sad to see that go!

Amber Aktinson in Divas London
Amber Aktinson in Divas London. © Divas London

Q: Tell me about a typical weekend show day aboard the Tattershall Castle…

We all get there to help load about 2 hours before the show, set up our changing areas and warm up our voices, roast our host a little bit (come on – it’s not fair that they have all the fun during the show and we don’t), get ready and get it on!

Q: What is your favourite moment of the 2-hour set?

Ohh, can I mention a few? Other than hearing the audience having the time of their life, it would have to be the end of act 1 – it’s bonkers – and singing my ballads in act 2.

Q: If you could sum up Divas London in one word, what would it be and why?

FREEDOM – because it is a release for all of us for a small amount of time, in a tough world.

Divas London promotional poster

Booking tickets to see Divas London

I for one think that the show sounds so much fun and am gutted to have missed it last week. If you have been inspired to book some tickets, you can head over to Ticket Source to book for either the Sway cabaret venue or Tattershall Castle boat. A huge thank you to Pritee Almeida for taking the time to speak with me, it was fascinating to learn about how you got into music and also gain an insight into what Divas London is about.

Thanks for reading my blog today.

Love Kat xxxx



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